Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Location: New England, United States

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Literalism vs. Hyperbolism

In the discussion about how to characterize Intelligent Design, Filll on the English Wikipedia offers this view:

ID is primarily about the inadequacies of the theory of evolution. It is secondarily about abiogenesis and fine tuning of the universe. It was created to try to create some way to fool the United States Judiciary and constitutional law experts so that biblical literalism could be taught in science classes in public schools, or even that teachers could be forced to teach biblical literalism in science classes in schools. It is part of a grand scheme in some cultural war that fundamentalist extremists are mounting to reform US society. There is minimal science behind ID, and therefore it is not really much of a hypothesis or a theory. It is a public relations and legal strategy by and large. It is essentially intellectually vacuous. The two meagre scientific ideas associated with ID, specific complexity and specified complexity, are mildly interesting but have no evidence to support them, and plenty of evidence against them. A major demand of ID is that "materialist" science be discarded, by which they mean that the definition of science should be returned to its pre-Scientific Revolution definition a few centuries ago, and that magic (and astrology) should be defined as scientific. This in fact is identical to the ideas promulgated by Al Ghazali around 1100 CE that destroyed Muslim science, then the most advanced in the world. --Filll (talk | wpc) 11:47, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

The confusion over literal vs. metaphorical interpretation of texts is a problem that is not limited to Biblical accounts. Even newspaper accounts are subject to disputes over how literally to take headline hyperbole. If a headline writer (say, on a news story in the NY Times, or on a public relations advertisement criticizing a PBS series on Evolution) crafts an emotionally arresting headline, should Wikipedia seize on a single instance of a hyperbolic term found only in such a singular headline (and nowhere else in original source material) and spin that singular appearance of an emotionally loaded word into a years-long kerfuffle over promoting a literal interpretation of that headline hyperbole?

It occurs to this writer that elevating a single instance of a hyperbolic headline into either a scientific theory or an irrefutable encyclopedic truth is the epitome of hyperbolic over-acting.

And if I'm over-emphasizing the hypocrisy of headline hyperbolism, then here I am over-dramatizing my Blogospheric Dissent From Encyclopedic Hyperbolism.

Monday, July 14, 2008

English Wiki RfC

Title: English Wiki RfC
Artist: Montana Mouse
Composer: Tom T. Hall and Barsoom Tork Associates
Midi: Harper Valley PTA

I want to tell you all a story 'bout an MIT Professor's grief
She had a research colleague who reviewed her English Wiki BLP
Well her friend came by one afternoon and didn't even stop to take a pee
He said, "Roz, I got a note here from the English Wiki RfC"

The note said, "Ms. Picard, you're signing things that we don't like
It's reported you've been praying and a-runnin' 'round with Jesus freaks
And we don't believe you ought to be teaching anyone this awful way"
It was signed by ConfuciusOrnis, for the English Wiki RfC.

Well, it happened that the RfC was gonna close that very afternoon
They were sure surprised when Moulton came in riding on a singing broom
And as he strode up to the subpage, I can still recall the words he had to say
He said, "I'd like to address this meeting of the English Wiki RfC."

"Well, there's OrangeMarlin sittin' there and seven times he spat upon my face
Odd nature seems to Skip around these blogs without the slightest touch of grace
And FeloniousMonk, can you tell us why Betacommando has a frown?
And shouldn't Jim Schuler be told to keep his Haldol off the grimy streets of town?

"Well, Baegis couldn't be here 'cause he trolled too late at Moulton's page last night
And if you note KillerChihuahua's tags, you'll find her mind is wallowing in fright
Then you have the nerve to tell me you think that as a writer I'm not fit
Well, this is just a Cluster B shop and you're all English Wiki hypocrites"

No I wouldn't put you on because it really did, it happened just this way
The day that Moulton socked it to the English Wiki RfC
The day that Moulton socked it to the English Wiki RfC

CopyClef 2008 Tom T. Hall and Barsoom Tork Associates
Resurrection Hackware. All wrongs reversed.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Screw Barry Thrill

Title: Screw Barry Thrill
Artist: Gastrin Bombesin
Lyrics: Fats Domino, Milton Roe, and Barsoom Tork Associates
Midi: Blueberry Hill (Fats Domino / Louis Armstrong)

Note to my largely non-existent fan club:

By special request, I had redacted the lyrics to "Screw Barry Thrill" to pave the way to resolve a lingering year-old dispute on Wikipedia. Now a month has passed and Jimbo Wales has not only not responded in the manner of a scholar and gentleman, he's done just the opposite. And so, per my agreement with SB Johnny and Ottava Rima, the lyrics to this utterly atrocious song parody are now going back online.

I outed Filll
On Screw Barry Thrill
On Screw Barry Thrill
When I found you

The moon stood still
On Screw Barry Thrill
And lingered until
My dream came true

The wind in the willow played
Love's sweet melody
But all of those vows you made
Were never to be

Though we're apart
You're part of me still
For you were a pill
On Screw Barry Thrill
The wind in the willow played
Love's sweet melody
But all of those vows you made
Were never to be

Though we're apart
You're part of me still
For you were a pill
On Screw Barry Thrill

Monday, July 07, 2008

Rush Delivery: Respect and Contempt

Here is a classic scene featuring "Dueling Banjos" from the 1972 movie, Deliverance, in which Drew, one of the four main characters, engages with Lonnie, an autistic youth, at a rural gas station. At the end, when Drew realizes he'd been bested by the hick kid from rural Georgia, he goes up to shake the boy's hand. Watch what happens.

"Dueling Banjos" from Deliverance (1972)

Did you see how the autistic kid turned away instead of smiling and shaking hands with his less accomplished musical rival?

Compare to Genesis 4:3-5...

And it came to pass, that Drew brought forth of the fruit of the guitar as an offering. And Lonnie, he also ably brought forth the banjo and the pickings thereof. And the assembled at the Fillling Station had respect unto Lonnie and to his banjo picking. But as to Drew and his guitar, he lost his way. And Drew was gobsmacked, and his countenance fell when Lonnie turned away and regarded him not.
In the early 1920s, Jean Piaget lectured and published on his notion of "Autistic or Symbolic Thought" — a kind of intuitionist thinking in non-verbal images and abstract symbols.

See "Sabina Spielrein, Jean Piaget — going their own ways" by Fernando Vidal, viewable online in pages 280-283 of Sabina Spielrein: Forgotten Pioneer of Psychoanalysis edited by Coline Covington and Barbara Wharton.

Who is Sabina Spielrein, you ask? She was a young patient and student of Carl Jung (with whom she had an affair described in her recently discovered diary, published as A Secret Symmetry). Spielrein later became a psychoanalyst herself, and the pioneering Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget, was among her first clients. Although they evidently parted company around 1923, both of them had studied the notion of "autistic and symbolic thought", perhaps inspired by earlier work by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler who coined the term "autism" for a kind of childlike preverbal cognition in dreamlike images and flights of fancy. Incidentally, the name "Spielrein" means "Fair Play" in German/Yiddish.

Thus we have a linkage from Siegmund Freud and Carl Jung to Sabina Spielrein and Jean Piaget, who launches the field of Childhood Development and Learning Theory (which then descends through other pioneers like Maria Montessori, John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, and Erik Erikson) to Seymour Papert, Oliver Sacks, Edith Ackerman, Sherry Turkle, Alan Kay, Mitchel Resnick and lesser lights such as myself.

Moulton Party

Moulton Party

   Title: Moulton Party
  Artist: Montana Mouse
Composer: Ricky Nelson and Barsoomy Tork
 YouTube: Garden Party

I went to a Moulton party to reminisce with some Wiki fiends
A chance to share old memories and play our tunes again
When I got to Moulton's party, they all knew my game
No one recognized me, I didn't sign my name

But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't block everyone, so ya gotta work with Filll

People came from miles around, everyone was there
OrangeMarlin brought Odd nature, there was evil in the air
'n' over in the corner, much to my alarm
FeloniousMonk played Macy's blues when Durova bought the farm


lott-in-dah-dah-dah, lot-in-dah-dah-dah

Played them all the old tunes, thought that's why they came
No one heard the music, we didn't look too lame
I said hello to Dave Souza, he never answered me
When I sang a song about an ID wonk, it was time to leave


lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)

Filll opened up a request line and out stepped Toddst1
Playing along and deleting like hell and fookin' like he should
If you gotta play at Moulton parties, I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang, I rather block a sock


lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)

'n' it's all right now, learned my lesson well
You see, ya can't block everyone, so you gotta nudnick Filll

CopyClef 2008 Ricky Nelson and Barsoomy Tork.
Resurrection Hackware.  All wrongs reversed.

"At Resurrection Hackware, our annoying song parodies are your everlasting earworm."

Garden Party ~ Rick Nelson

Saturday, July 05, 2008

We're Only Having Fun

With apologies to The Carpenters.

We're Only Having Fun

[Click to start embedded Midi.]

Title: We're Only Having Fun
Artist: Montana Mouse
Lyrics: Paul Williams and Barsoom Tork Associates
Music: Roger Nichols
Midi: We've Only Just Begun

We've only just begun to jive,
IPs and traceroutes
A hostmask and we're on our way.
And yes, we've just begun.

Before the rising sun we post,
So many threads to choose
We start out balking and learn to gun.
And yes, we're having fun.

Sharing theories that are new to us,
Watching the blocks along the way,
Talking it over just the foo of fuss,
Clashing together every day

And when the hits come in we smile,
So much strife ahead
We'll find a place where the mushrooms grow,
And yes, we're having fun

CopyClef 2008 Paul Williams, Roger Nichols, and Barsoom Tork Associates.
Resurrection Hackware, Reclusive Internet Dementors. All wrongs reversed.

"At Resurrection Hackware, our annoying music is your everlasting earworm."

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Declaration of Indigestion

On this Independence Day, 2008, we reprise this classic item from this day in history, three years ago...

Ghost Writer reports:

Yesterday, John Forbes Nash, Douglas Hofstadter, Henry David Thoreau, Raymond Smullyan, Publius X, Stephen Langton, Galileo Galilei, Moulton, Leonardo da Vinci, Gautama Siddhartha, Lao Tsu, and Socrates all met for Sunday Brunch at Shapiro's Deli.

After gorging themselves on Hot Pastrami and Dill Pickles for a marathon 13-hour food fest, they crafted and published this account of their conversations:

The Declaration of Indigestion
of the Thirteen Columnists

Incongruous, July 4, 2005

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United Ingrates of Esoterica, Salut!

When in the multi-course food fights of humorous events, it becomes necessary for one clique to dissolve the political bands which have hot-linked them with another, and to assume among the powers of the snerk, the separate and equal station to which the odd Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of the Bloggers requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Salutation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Hosts are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain Functional Protocols, that among these are Keep-Alive, Autonomy and the Pursuit of Constraint Satisfaction. —That to secure these protocols, Governing Dynamics are instituted among Hosts, deriving their Just Affordances from the content of the Regulatory Architecture, —That whenever any Form of Dysfunctionality becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Compulsion of the Debuggers to reprogram or to pitch it, and to institute new Governing Dynamics, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its protocols in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Robustness and Functionality. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governing Dynamics long established should not be changed for light and capricious causes; and accordingly all experience has shown, that Internet Hosts are more disposed to suffer, while Stack Overflows are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the annoying Recursions to which they are resigned and accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Nefarious Object evinces a design to reduce them under Dissolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, it is their obsession and compulsion to analyze such Governing Dynamics, and to provide new Zone Alarms for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Columnists; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Governing Dynamics. The history of the present Rules of Engagement is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these Ingrates. To prove this, let these Facts and Declarations be submitted to a candid and torporous world.

We have infused our Assent to Functional Protocols, the most robust and necessary for the public good.

We have bidden the System Designers of our Regulatory Architecture to craft filters of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till Validation should be obtained; and when so suspended, we solemnly pledge to attend to them until we finally get the damn things working right.

We have agreed to invent other Protocols for the accommodation of large forums of people, unless those people would prefer the Right of Obliviousness of the System Architecture, a right inestimable to them and formidable to the Learning Disabled only.

We have called together Protocol Design Teams at places diverse, convenient, and distant from the Wayback Archives of the public Search Engines, for the sole purpose of intriguing them into reliance upon our ingenuity.

We have dissolved Unrepresentative Precipitates repeatedly, for opposing with erratic capriciousness the solubility of our evasions on the rights of the people.

We have refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to suffer others to be capriciously deselected; whereby the System Architecture, incapable of Annihilation, has returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State of the System remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of evasion from without, and nefarious convulsions from within. Or not.

We have endeavoured to prevent the depopulation of these System States; for that purpose clearing away obstacles for the Naturalization of Strangers and Aliens; refusing to diss others who encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Ghettolands and Obscure Shtetls.

We have deconstructed the Mal-Administration of Justice, by recusing ourselves from Assent to Designated Outlaws for corrupting Judiciary powers.

We have made System Monitors independent of our druthers alone, for the tenure of their periodic log files, and the amount of payback for their labors.

We have erected a multitude of New Web Sites, and sent hither swarms of Embedded Plug-Ins, Animations, and Annoying Music to edutain our people, and to max out their available bandwidth.

Oops, mebbe that wasn't such a cool move on our part.

Are there any dill pickles left?

I'll have another cuppa cawfee.

CopySchlepp July 4, 2005 by the Maundering MuseNet Players. All Wrongs Reversed.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Web Side Story

Web Side Story

Artist:  Barsoom Tork
Title:  Web Side Story
Lyrics:  Stephen Sondheim and Barsoom Tork Associates
Music:  Leonard Bernstein
 Midi:  Officer Krupke

Dear kindly Sergeant Bupkes,
You gotta understand,
It's just our bringin' upkes
That gets us out of hand.
Our mothers all are whiners,
Our fathers all are lunks.
Golly Florence, natcherly we're shtunks!

Gee, Officer Bupkes, we're very upset;
We never had the love
That ev'ry child oughta get.
We ain't no delinquents,
We're misunderstood.
Deep down inside us there is good!

There is good!

There is good, there is good,
There is untapped good!
Like inside, the worst of us is good!

That's a touchin' good story.

Lemme post it to Wikipedia Review!

Just tell it to ArbCom.

Dear kindly Judge, your Honor,
My parents treat me rough.
With all their magic dragons,
They won't give me a Puff.
They didn't wanna have me,
But somehow I was had.
Leapin' lizards!
That's why I'm so bad!


Officer Bupkes, you're really a square;
This boy don't need a judge,
He needs an analyst's care!
It's just his neurosis
That oughta be curbed.
He's psychologic'ly disturbed!

I'm disturbed!

We're disturbed, we're disturbed,
We're the most disturbed,
Like we're psychologic'ly disturbed.

In the opinion of this Kort,
this child is depraved on account
he ain't had a normal home.

Hey, I'm depraved on account I'm deprived.

So take him to a headshrinker.

ConfuciusOrnis is a bastard,
FeloniousMonk's a junkyard dog,
OrangeMarlin's always plastered,
Odd nature spams my blog.
Durova wears a mustache,
Gerard's husband wears a dress.
Goodness gracious, that's why I'm a mess!


Officer Bupkes, you're really a slob.
This boy don't need a doctor,
Just a good honest job.
Society's played him a terrible trick,
And sociologic'ly he's sick!

I am sick!

We are sick, we are sick,
We are sick, sick, sick,
Like we're sociologically sick!

In my opinion, this child don't need
to have his head shrunk at all. Cyberspace
delinquency is purely a social disease!

Hey, I got a social disease!

So take him to a social worker!

Dear kindly social worker,
They say go earn a buck.
Like be a Wiki jerker,
Which means like be a schmuck.
It's not I'm anti-social,
I'm only anti-snerk.
Gloryosky! That's why I'm a jerk!


Officer Bupkes, you've done it again.
This boy don't need a block,
He needs a year in the pen.
It ain't just a question of misunderstood;
Deep down inside him, he's no good!

I'm no good!

We're no good, we're no good!
We're no earthly good,
Like the best of us is no damn good!

The trouble is he's crazy.

The trouble is he links.

The trouble is he's lazy.

The trouble is he stinks.

The trouble is he's gruesome.

The trouble is he's grown.

Bupkes, we got troubles of our own!

Gee, Officer Bupkes,
We're down on our knees,
'Cause no one wants a wanker
With a social disease.
Gee, Officer Bupkes,
What are we to do?
Gee, Officer Bupkes,
Block you!
CopyClef 2008 Resurrection Hackware. All wrongs reversed.

"At Resurrection Hackware, we solemnly swear we are up to no good."